Adobe unveils Edge Tools & Services for Web creation

Adobe has unveiled a new family of software called Edge Tools & Services, a set of seven "task-focused tools" to assist the creation and development of websites, digital content, and mobile apps.

Adobe announced this new toolset at its Create the Web event in San Francisco--the first in a series of such events around the globe. The company is using these Web events to highlight its HTML5 and mobile-oriented technologies and its contributions in the areas of layout, graphics, cinematic visual effects, and typography.

The new packages, targeted to professional Web designers and developers, include: Edge Animate, Edge Inspect, Edge Code, Edge Reflow, Edge Web Fonts, Typekit, and PhoneGap Build. Some of these products, such as Edge Animate, Typekit, and PhoneGap Build are familiar--others are new. All but one are available online now via Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription service. And all are designed to complement Dreamweaver CS6, the company's visual Web design software.

By making the new services cloud-based, Adobe is also seeking to make its new, and still controversial, Creative Cloud service more enticing for its target audience of creative professionals. This offering is yet another incentive for Web developers to try the Creative Cloud subscription plan, as it adds significant and permanent value in exchange for the free trial membership.

Designers who code and vice versa

According to Adobe, there's a new genre of Web professional emerging: designers who code and developers who design, and The Edge Animate toolset is especially targeted to them.

"The nature of our customers has been changing," said Danny Winokur, Adobe's vice president of interactive development. "Whereas historically, you might have designers that just did design, we're increasingly seeing that designers working on websites and other Web applications are learning some basic coding. We refer to these designers as designers who code."

Such designers, said Winokur, understand HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, the core technologies of the Web, and they are increasingly sensitive to the limitations and capabilities of those technologies as they embark on new designs.

At the same time, Winokur notes, Adobe is seeing developers moving closer to designers. "A category of front-end developers are focused on being sensitive to design and understanding what a designer is trying to accomplish," he said. These two groups work together more collaboratively than in the past.

Commercial releases

The new flagship tool is Edge Animate 1.0, the first commercial release of the HTML5 animation software package formerly called Edge Preview, introduced last year on Adobe labs. It specializes in creating Flash-style, content-rich interactivity and motion graphics using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

Edge Inspect 1.0, formerly called Adobe Shadow, lets you preview Web designs on various desktop and mobile sites simultaneously. Designed to aid productivity, Edge Inspect eases the process of testing and debugging designs across devices.

The commercial release of the PhoneGap Build 1.0 service helps designers package mobile apps built with HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS for use on a range of mobile platforms.

Tools in depth

Edge Reflow, a tool that assists in creating responsive layout and design, offers a way to repurpose content to accommodate desktops, Web, tablets, and mobile phones. It lets you change a design's layout depending on the screen size such that the designer maintains control over the layout without having to recreate it multiple times. This software is being demoed as a sneak peek, but is not yet available. Reflow will have its preview release by the end of the year, Adobe says.

Edge Code, available as a preview, is a new code editor that developers can use to write the underlying code for their applications. Built on the Brackets open source project, it is optimized for designers and developers working with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

For the publishing phase of development, Adobe has introduced the free Edge Web Fonts service offering a library of open source fonts for use on websites and in apps. The existing Typekit service provides options for developers to include an array of high-quality fonts on their websites. Typekit's library of fonts includes open source Web fonts from Adobe and Google and other designers.

Concurrently, Adobe is releasing two new open source fonts: Source Code Pro (a fixed-width font for code editing) and Source Sans Pro, for user interfaces and software developer applications.

Availability and pricing

These new tools and services are available as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud free introductory membership and its paid memberships.

After an introductory period (for which an end date has yet to be set), Edge Animate will be priced at $499 for a perpetual license, $15 per month for a standalone subscription, or included in a paid membership to Creative Cloud.

While Creative Cloud always had and still offers a free 30-day trial membership, the Edge Animate Tools & Services do not expire after 30 days. Edge Animate users will have their free membership extended into what is called a Starter Creative Cloud plan, and thus get a free perpetual license to Edge Animate (a $499 value) and ongoing basic licenses to the other tools and services as part of this free membership. They also get the service's regular file syncing, file sharing, storage, and CS6 free tryout features.

Additional capacity for Edge Inspect and PhoneGap Build is available via standalone subscriptions priced at $10 per month each. Typekit paid plans include additional websites, fonts, and page views that are available for between $25 and $99 per year. A $50 per year Portfolio Plan is included in the paid membership to Creative Cloud.

Paying members can also download and install all Creative Suite 6 desktop applications, and applications such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Muse. Paid membership to Creative Cloud for individuals is $50 per month based on an annual membership and $75 per month for a month-to-month membership. Pricing for education customers and customers who upgrade from Creative Suite 3 and later is $30 per month.

Create the Web tour

Adobe's Create the Web tour is now at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens, and proceeds to London on October 2, Tokyo on October 9, and Sydney on October 11. The keynote address is streaming live. More information is available on Adobe's website.

This story, "Adobe unveils Edge Tools & Services for Web creation" was originally published by Macworld.

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